Lake's history has prestige at festival

03:37, Feb 07 2013
Nelson lakes
CELEBRATING PARADISE: Nelson Lakes artist Jan Thomson and potter Dave Smissen will both have work for sale in the Nelson Lakes Festival market on February 17.

The second annual Nelson Lakes Festival will take place against the stunning backdrop of Lake Rotoiti on February 17 to celebrate the 170th anniversary of the lake's first sighting by a European, surveyor John Sylvanus Cotterell.

Organiser Helen Campbell said it was likely that Cotterell would have become one of New Zealand's "shining lights" if he had not been killed in the Wairau Affray, aged 23.

He was a Quaker, a religious order opposed to war.

"It's really quite tragic because he certainly would not have had a musket," said Helen.

A keen history buff, Helen looked forward to the Rotoiti Historical Group's presentation at the festival.

The group will display historical film footage of Nelson Lakes and items from their archives.


Helen said the new group was particularly interested in hearing from people at the festival about their memories of the lake. "So many people have that emotional attachment to the lake," she said.

"A lot of people who live here were here as children and wanted to come back to live."

Those who want to hear more about the lake's history can speak to local authors Graeme Godbaz and Arch Barclay.

Graeme wrote a book set in the Wairau Saddle-Tophouse area.

Arch is the writer behind The Moonlight Legacy, a romantic story featuring the gold prospector and explorer George Fairweather Moonlight.

A walking guide of areas of historical interest will also be available for a gold coin donation.

A market featuring about 40 stalls will run on the lake's edge from 9am. Entry is free, with funds raised from raffle tickets going towards the area's emergency services and archives for the local history group.

The stalls include work from artists such as Jan Thomson from Korimako Studios and potters Dave and Barbara Smissen, locally-grown produce, plants and artisan products.

Helen looked forward to seeing band BusMan's Handbag, saying they were excellent the first time the festival was held last year.

Buskers will be playing music on the day, and there will be other activities such as archery, fly fishing with Fish and Game's Marc Jary, and a half-day walk to visit the historic Kea Hut.

The Department of Conservation will have displays and screen historic film clips.

Photography tutor Alan Bilham will follow up his popular class last year with instructions on how to be creative using digital photography.